2nd Year Grad Student, Art Education
University of the Arts
Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of working with guests at Broad Street Ministry at the
art table. I brought a project and a prompt for guests to answer, in hopes to start to collect stories for our poverty exhibit. When I got to the art table I explained I was there as part of a collaboration UArts was doing with Broad Street Ministry. I asked guests if they would allow me to use their art in a pop up exhibit that we would be doing at Eastern State Penitentiary. Almost everyone who participated allowed me to take their work to exhibit. I then explained the art project, I asked participating guests to create an “abstract self-portrait”. This was explained as a work of art that represented you either in a true portrait or a representation of things that were meaningful to them. In conjunction with the artwork I asked each artist to fill out a prompt that my group created to be exhibited with the artwork, the prompt was “What is a dream you have for yourself? How would your life change if your dream came true?”. The artists then had an hour and a half to create their artwork and complete the prompt.
My main goal was to gather stories with the guests. As a group, Jess, Katherine, and I, came up with the prompt and the art project. Our hope was that we could collect stories through the art and the prompts. While the art and prompts the artists completed did fulfill our requirements I found that I got more compelling and in-depth stories through talking with the guests while they were creating art. While I sat with the guests many of them told me told me how they became homeless, how they advocate for themselves and the rest of the homeless population and they were very open and honest with their stories when I talked to them. I found the answers to the prompts and the art to be more reserved in most cases then the conversations I had with the guests.
I think all the stories collected were valuable, but the stories I collected through conversation had more meaning for our exhibit. I wanted to respect the guests and our partners at Broad Street Ministry and I was unsure how I could use the verbal stories to help us with our exhibit since what I had originally asked for was the art and the written statements. After our meeting with Devon from Broad Street last week I was excited to hear her say we can use our verbal conversations with consent from the guest as part of our exhibit. Tomorrow I am going back to the art table at Broad Street Ministry with a new project and a new prompt. While I am looking forward to making art and collecting written stories with the guests again I think I will have a different approach in how I facilitate the artwork. Knowing that we can now use the conversational stories we gather at Broad Street I am going to try to talk to more of the guests at the table to gather more in-depth stories.